The SeaChoice Steering Committee members are:
Nicola brings more than 14 years of experience as a leader in the non-profit sector, which includes working with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in both staff and volunteer capacities prior to joining CPAWS. Her expertise centres on campaign and program management, with a focus on outreach, fundraising, education, public relations and volunteer management. Nicola spent over a decade working in B.C. politics as a result of her interest in public engagement and policy issues. She holds a BA in political science from the University of British Columbia, and is committed to lifelong learning as demonstrated by her subsequent studies in non-profit management, human resources, organizational behavior and fundraising management.
Nicola has been an advocate for environmental and justice issues since her youth, and has served on numerous boards and committees. She currently volunteers on the Boards of Directors of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival and Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan. Nicola has a passion for helping non-profit organizations at both the local and international levels develop skills to expand organizational capacity and increase public support of their cause. She has a deep appreciation for B.C.’s amazing wilderness and oceans from growing up in our gorgeous province.
As long as I can remember I have always loved the animals and ecosystems associated with water. It was my experience as a fisheries observer on a small gillnet fleet in the Bay of Fundy in the early 1990s that confirmed my suspicions that there was something terribly wrong with how we went about harvesting from the oceans. This lead to a doctoral degree and to the type of work I presently do.
My favourite green-listed seafood is the Pacific sardine. The fishery has little bycatch, conservative catch quotas, and from a budgetary point of view, is inexpensive. Other characteristics included being healthy for you and a low carbon footprint.
My work at SeaChoice as the science coordinator ensures that the appropriate science is being used in our assessments of various fisheries. By informing consumers and retail partners of sustainable seafood preferences we hope to put an end to unsustainable fishing practices.
Growing up in Cape Breton and spending a lot of time on the water and in the ocean has made me appreciate the pure luxury of being able to eat food that is produced from the natural ecosystem. I have to say that a fresh oyster, plucked from the sediments of the Bras D’or Lakes, cannot be beat for taste and experience.
Engaging in SeaChoice has enabled me to make the important link between the economy and the environment when it comes to marine conservation. I am very concerned about the plight of coastal communities as fisheries are industrialized and fish populations decline. Much of the sustainable seafood movement is asking for sustainable options to meet consumer demand, yet unfortunately the benefits of this demand are rarely reaped by the fishermen who are fishing sustainably in the first place.
I’m committed to working to change this through policy change and a market shift to ocean-friendly seafood. My background of growing up in rural Nova Scotia, completing a PhD. in marine biology and having worked on national and international marine policy over the past several years enables me to see the benefits that are possible from an engaged consumer and retail base, particularly when it comes to making real change on the water.
I completed a B.Sc. in Biology and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria and a Master of Marine Management at Dalhousie University. Going from coast to coast gave me a whole new perspective on the diversity of coastal communities and how regionally unique our relationships to the ocean and seafood are. Amongst my time at school I have worked on seafood sustainability issues in a variety of capacities from academics, research and consulting, which has allowed me to forge relationships with diverse stakeholders throughout the seafood industry. I continue to be impassioned by my work in the field of seafood sustainability because of the complexity of the issues and the diversity of potential solutions.
I truly believe that the work that we do at SeaChoice makes a difference and I am delighted to be part of this dedicated team. By engaging with consumers, retailers, buyers, processors and fishermen, we provide an opportunity for everyone to make that connection between how their day-to-day decisions impact the ocean. Having an aware and educated seafood supply chain is a fundamental part to ensuring the sustainability of our seafood systems and marine and freshwater ecosystems.
Without a doubt, my favourite “Best Choice” seafood is farmed mussels and clams. As filter feeders they obtain all of their nutrients by filtering out the plankton from the surrounding water which means farmers do not need to provide commercial feeds. This greatly reduces the amount of (industrial and ecological) energy needed to farm them. They are also very nutritious (high source of protein, calcium and iron) and delicious!
Growing up in Australia, I was led to the study of Zoology and later Palaeontology by a youth spent bushwalking and spearfishing. Palaeontologists have a great passion for the processes that shaped the living world, and quickly see the similarity of the present moment to past episodes of biological change accompanied by extinction. It is no great step to realize conservation is our best option for maintaining a healthy ecology, and the oceans are no exception.
I love shellfish, and also sardines for their unique flavours and textures, and as a matter of principle, eating further down the food chain. But my most frequent selection shifted not long ago when a DNA study of fish in a New York market revealed an outrageous proportion of substitution of one species for another – and I was impressed that Tilapia was being sold as tuna. Not at the act of deception, but that it was a deception that worked! I started to favour Tilapia. Simple recipes can help it taste like a variety of fish. Here then is my seafood strategy; a freshwater, vegetarian farmed fish doing no harm to the oceans and pleasing to the palate. We could go a long way toward healthy oceans by shifting our fish consumption toward specialized Tilapia varieties.
The SeaChoice program raises attention to options like this, and is successfully directing the line of supply of seafood along more sustainable pathways. We rely on the ocean for much more than fish, and we need a very rapid change in attitude toward our treatment of it. SeaChoice is a key player in this shift of perception, and I am very pleased to play a small role in that critical work.